QuickBooks Automatic Updates & Critical Fixes-What’s Your Policy?

A QuickBooks automatic update for QuickBooks Pro 2013, Premier 2013 (all versions or flavors – Contractor, Manufacturing, Professional Services, etc), and Enterprise 13.0 (all versions or flavors) – referenced as simply QuickBooks 2013 for the balance of this article, beginning right around June 3, 2013 with the last round of the update being released today, has created more problems than it fixed for many users and 3rd party developers.

The QuickBooks Automatic Update feature has been around for years, you’ll find this option when you open QuickBooks -> go to the Help menu -> and choose Update QuickBooks -> and click on the Options tab.  Here you’ll see the Automatic Update option.  In all the versions (Pro, Premier, Enterprise)  – EXCEPT the Premier Accountant edition if you are a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor – you have the option of turning this feature on or off.

QuickBooks Automatic Update option - QuickBooks Premier Accountant 2012
QuickBooks Automatic Update option – QuickBooks Premier Accountant 2012

NOTE:  Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors who obtain their copy of the QuickBooks Premier or Enterprise Accountant version through their ProAdvisor membership cannot turn the automatic update feature off.

What’s the difference between an Automatic Update and a Critical Fix?

The Automatic Update feature was designed by Intuit as a way to put out Maintenance Releases (program fixes and updates) throughout the year to it’s end users – in much the same way that Microsoft downloads and installs Windows and Office Updates.

The Critical Fix feature is new and is designed to allow Intuit to push out a small but important patch quickly and easily without having to wait or go through the process of creating an entire Maintenance Release if they discover something specific that needs to be fixed ASAP.

Can I just turn Automatic Updates and Critical Fixes off?

You can turn off the QuickBooks Automatic Update feature – just go to the Help menu -> choose Update QuickBooks -> click on the Options tab -> and select the radio button next to the “No” option for Automatic Updates.

NOTE:  If you choose to turn off automatic updates, you need to turn off the updates on each computer in your company.

However, this means that whatever is wrong in your Version (including Maintenance Release) will remain unfixed until such time that the bug rears it’s ugly head and causes you grief and you need to update your software.  At which time you can go back to the Update QuickBooks option -> click on the Update Now tab and then click the Get Updates button.

It is not known yet if turning off Automatic Updates also turns off the Critical Fix option – it’s just too new and no one has been able to test it.

What’s your recommendation?

I’m a big advocate of keeping your software up-to-date – BUT – I’m also a big advocate of not wanting/having to deal with the unforeseen problems that installing an update can produce, the R7 update is a good example of this, here’s what happened:

We first learned about the problem with the R7 update from a blog post (written by Charlie Russell on the QuickBooks and Beyond blog), so basically we were prepared for an onslaught of phone calls.  We first had calls from customers on June 6 and 7th who had been running our software with the R6 Release for QuickBooks 2013 without an issue, who all of a sudden were receiving an error message that “qbXML or it’s components were not installed“.  At first we were really confused, mainly because this was different than the problems that Charlie mentioned in his original article and we hadn’t been one of the people who received the R7 update (Intuit releases the “R” or Maintenance Releases over a two week time period to it’s users), so we weren’t seeing this in-house.

It wasn’t until the 10th before the big doo-doo hit the fan and we were getting widespread calls from customers who were receiving the “QuickBooks- Unrecoverable Error” message and by this time we were able to reproduce it in-house and begin diagnosing the problem from our end.  As QuickBooks add-on developers, we first need to be able to recreate the error in house to find out what is causing the problem and then make modifications to our software code in order for us to put out a “tested patch” ourselves, that we know will solve the problem.

At this point, my recommendations are as follows (and this may change once more is known about the Critical Fixes option):

  • Leave the Automatic Update feature turned on – BUT, don’t install the update right away.  This is done by selecting “NO” when you start QuickBooks and it displays a message stating that an update has been downloaded and do you want to install it.
  • Make sure that you are backing up QuickBooks every day.
  • Watch the Intuit forums, QuickBooks Users forums, if you use QuickBooks third-party add-ons watch the Support Area of their website for reports from other users about problems.
  • Wait at least a week before installing the update and make a note of the exact day that you installed the update.
  • And most importantly, follow any instructions provided by the third-party developer for resolving the problem.

There are probably several other “best practices” that could or should be added to the above list and it may get updated as time goes on.

NOTE:  If you have been affected by the QuickBooks- Unrecoverable Error caused by the R7 update and DO NOT use any QuickBooks Add-Ons there are two possible resolutions:

  1. Follow the instructions in this QuickBooks Support Article (Recommended)
  2. Follow the instructions provided by Charlie Russel on the QuickBooks and Beyond blog for a manual fix, BUT – be aware that the manual fix may cause additional problems down the road.  (Do at your own risk)

So, for now that’s “my” best practices policy – what’s yours?